Athens: Greece’s outspoken Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday urged the country’s international creditors to “get their act together” and help cobble together a new loan deal before the struggling nation’s money runs out.
The call came amid the Greek government’s inability to agree with its creditors — the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank — on reforms that would unlock some 7.2 billion euros (Dh28.8 billion) in promised bailout funds.
“It’s about time the institutions, in particular the IMF, get their act together, and come to an agreement with us,” Varoufakis told CNN.
“It’s about time they come to the table and meet us, not half the way, but one quarter of the way, we have already met them three quarters of the way,” Varoufakis said.
The talks resumed on Tuesday, with the two sides haggling over tax issues, social insurance, labour rights and the size of Greece’s budget surplus.
The government hopes to secure an agreement by early June at the latest.
The European Union’s economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici agreed that the discussions had to “speed up.”
“We are aware of the liquidity problems in Greece and this is why it’s so important now that negotiations that take place in Brussels speed up,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Dublin.
“We want that agreement, we want it fast, we are working on it hard,” he said.
“The prime minister... has instructed our negotiators at technical level to speed things up,” the ruling Syriza party’s top European Parliament lawmaker Dimitris Papadimoulis told Skai TV.
Greece’s radical left government in recent days has sent conflicting messages on its finances as the state gradually runs out of money.
Over the weekend, a cabinet minister said Greece had “no money” to make a series of repayments to the IMF from June 5.
“The instalments for the IMF in June are [overall] 1.6 billion euros. This money will not be given. There isn’t any to be given. This is a known fact,” Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said on Sunday.
A day later, a government spokesman insisted the country would continue its payments for as long as it could.
“To the extent that we are able to pay, we will keep on repaying these obligations,” government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told reporters.
Sources in Athens with knowledge of the issue said the Greek state would face particular difficulty to keep up payments towards the end of the June.
But Varoufakis on Tuesday denied that Greece is about to run out of money.
“Our state, as a result of huge sacrifices by the Greek people, has managed to live within its means,” he said.
“We will make the payment because I have no doubt that we will have an agreement,” he added.
A German finance ministry source said a Greek default to the IMF on June 5 was unlikely.
“Greece appears to have understood that without the IMF, there is no deal,” the official said.
Greek daily Ta Nea on Tuesday said US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Washington would exert influence to help break the deadlock.
Tsipras’ office confirmed the two men had spoken on the telephone but declined to comment further.